By Paul Kurtz

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Community and environmental activists, along with residents of Nicetown, are considering court as their next move to oppose SEPTA’s plan to build a natural gas plant in the 4300 block of Wissahickon Avenue.

Philadelphia Air Management Services quietly issued a permit to SEPTA on Wednesday.

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Opponents of the plant held a rally at City Hall, unaware of the issuance of the permit.

“We fully support Council members (Cindy) Bass, (Helen) Gym, (Curtis) Jones, and (Blondell) Reynolds Brown and their request for air management services to withhold the permit to the proposed Nicetown plant, and to insist on a full health impact study,” said one protester.

They were stunned to learn that AMS sided with Septa.

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“You feel like the wind has been let out of your sails at this point if something like that is true,” said another protester.

Opponents say the natural gas plant will compound existing health problems they believe are caused by a huge diesel-powered bus depot, and traffic from nearby Roosevelt Boulevard.

SEPTA’s Erik Johanson contends that the plant would have the opposite effect.

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“This project is actually reducing emissions by providing power through a cleaner source of energy,” Johanson said.